Century Collection: Battle of Gettysburg
Matted to include an authentic Civil War bullet
The Battle of Gettysburg (July 1 Š July 3, 1863), fought in, and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, as part of the Gettysburg Campaign, was the battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War and is frequently cited as the warÕs turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon MeadeÕs Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate General Robert E. LeeÕs Army of Northern Virginia, ending LeeÕs invasion of the North.
Following his success at Chancellorsville in May 1863, Lee led his army through the Shenandoah Valley for his second invasion of the North, hoping to reach as far as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or even Philadelphia, and to influence Northern politicians to give up their prosecution of the war. The two armies collided at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, as Lee urgently concentrated his forces there. Low ridges to the northwest of the town were defended initially by a Union cavalry division, which was soon reinforced with two corps of Union infantry.
However, two large Confederate corps assaulted them from the northwest and north, collapsing the hastily developed Union lines, sending the defenders retreating through the streets of town to the hills just to the south. On the second day of battle, most of both armies had assembled. The Union line was laid out in a defensive formation resembling a fishhook. Lee launched a heavy assault on the Union left flank, and fierce fighting raged at Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, DevilÕs Den, and the Peach Orchard. On the Union right, demonstrations escalated into full-scale assaults on CulpÕs Hill and Cemetery Hill.
Across the battlefield, despite significant losses, the Union defenders held their lines. On the third day of battle, July 3, fighting resumed on CulpÕs Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south, but the main event was a dramatic infantry assault by 12,500 Confederates against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. PickettÕs Charge was repulsed by Union rifle and artillery fire at great losses to the Confederate army. Lee led his army on a torturous retreat back to Virginia. Between 46,000 and 51,000 Americans were casualties in the three-day battle.
That November, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the dead, both Union and Confederate, and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address. The framed map of the Battle of Gettysburg contains an authentic excavated American Civil War 58 Caliber 3 ring Bullet with certificate of authenticity